Boomkat Product Review:
Maryanne Amacher’s pioneering work with otoacoustic emissions and psychoacoustics inform these deeply uncanny pieces for voice synthesis and improvised electronics from Julia Holter collaborator Scott Cazan
For anyone scratching their head at the technical terminology; OAEs are “sounds given off by one small part of the cochlea when it is stimulated by soft clicking sounds. When the sound stimulates the cochlea, the outer hair cells vibrate. The vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear.” While primarily used as a hearing test for babies (according to an audiologist who checked Maryanne Amacher recordings while I did a hearing test), OAEs have been artfully applied to music by the likes of Maryanne Amacher since 1991’s ‘Petra’ for two pianos, with examples of distorted combination tones also heard in Éliane Radigue recordings, and more brutally by the likes of Florian Hecker and Marcus Schmickler in recent decades. We can now add Scott Cazan, an LA-based composer, performer and sound artist with the otherworldly experience of ‘Three’.
Primed to practically freak out anyone who hasn’t heard otoacoustic emissions previously, the results of ’Three’ explore a spectrum of responses to the auditory hallucination reneging from subtly mesmerising to more aggressively invasive and bullish. The first half can be considered as softening up inquisitive lugs with the ringing tones of ‘Three 1’, shatterproof whistle of ‘Three 2’, and the insectoid ecology of ‘Three 3’, before its 2nd half really lets fly, holding a piercing, jagged tension between the ruptured vocals of ‘Three 4’ and wax-emulsifying noise of ‘Three 6’ that’s sure to pique interests of music’s outer limits explorers.